Thursday, May 19, 2011


He asked me for my number right from the seat of his Harley that Sunday in Coney Island, it was mere seconds into our phone conversation the next day before my devil-may-care decision was shadowed with regret.

“I hope you ain’t a crazy or a total retart like the last few women I dated,” that was his opener. Was it too early to end the conversation? I was dumb struck, I barely got out my “Nooo, no retart here” before he picked up the baton and ran with it. “This one, right? She’s a whale, and she’s wearin’ these spandex things, and her legs are FAAAT like I’m in Vinnie's Sausage Factory.”

“Hmn, that sucksss,” I replied, politely. He continues “So, I decide, what the f*ck, I’ll give it a shot, her face isn’t bad so I take her to dinner a few times,” he pauses to cough up last night’s pack of Camels, then threads his next thought on the tail of the expectorated phlegm, “long story short I broke up with her and THIS is why you have to call me from an unblocked number so I know it’s not her callin’, she keeps callin’ wantin' to git back wit me.” Now I was intrigued, why, after feeding her sausage thighs on several proper dinner dates, would he suddenly call it quits? He explained, “She got this kid, right. He’s 5, and she brought him on our third date so we could get acquaintit and I’m like WO, I din sign on for this so I tell her that I don’t see myself raisin’ some kid, plus she lived right under the Williamsburg Bridge, you ever been ‘round there, what a SH*Thole.”

I took my opening for my exit, “Goodness, that really is unfortunate,” but my gentleman caller put my plan on hold. “Wait – it gets better - so she begs me to go out wit her one more time to break up wit her in person or whatever - so I go and tell I’m not wanting a kid like I told her before and she says ‘no problem’”

“Great! It's good you were clear...” I say, attempting to end our session on an up note, again I'm interrupted.

“Wait - then she gets real serious and says to me ‘it's no problem, I been thinking. I'll just give him up for adoption.’”

I couldn't have heard him correctly.

“Right??!!," he said translating my silence, "I was like who the f*ck does that?? So I dropped her off home and she's been calling me ever since. Her mom called me up yesterday and wanted to know why I broke things off and I told her it wasn’t the kid, it was the whole puttin' the kid up for adoption that was it for me, right?” That was his dealbreaker, he said, before he inhaled deeply through his deviated septum to prepare for what would never materialize into the rest of his life's story. “So. Whadelse you wanna know about me.”

Sunday, May 8, 2011

ALWAYS REMEMBER - a letter to my Mom

Dear Mom,
We were all in denial about what was happening to you. You started repeating things a lot, and became increasingly disoriented. I remember walking along the water in La Jolla when you still lived there, it was the first time I noticed a vacant look in your eyes. Now that I look back, this was when I probably realized something was wrong. I put both my hands on your shoulders, as if to wake you and said, “Mom! Mom!!” so we could laugh it away. You mirrored me with a vague giggle, but said, “I’m tired Honey, let’s go home.”

It took Kath, Mike’s wife, to say we should bring you in for testing. We resented her for bringing it up, nothing was wrong with our Mom, you were going to the gym twice a week, delivering meals to people with AIDS, going to dinner with friends. But on our visit, you said we were going to meet your friend, Belle, at that big burger and nacho restaurant with the Surfboard logo and Belle never showed up. I said we should call her but you waved it off and ordered enough food for an army and finished it off, and then ordered dessert. You used to get an appetizer and say it was way too much food. I was leaving for New York the next morning, you asked me over and over and over again what time my flight was, I tried to wrangle the pullover you’d been wearing for a week straight away from you to throw it in the wash, but you became so stubborn about it so I just let it go. A couple of weeks later Rob said the two of you were taking a drive up to the top of Mount Soledad and you turned to him and asked if you were in California or Connecticut.

After taking you to the doctor, they took away your car keys. Mike packed a bag for you that day and brought you back to Portland with him. It was as if you had your life on Wednesday, and on Thursday you would never have it back again. They found a lovely place for you, and bring the grandkids by on Sundays. You found a boyfriend, who would have thunk it, you’re no Spring chicken, but he’s so handsome, and funny, a retired Marine that looks at you like you’re the most precious treasure in the world.

And you are. Even now, more than ever – you are a great inspiration to me. “I never let things get me down,” you say every day when I call. You never did. You had a crazy mother, she used to drive me insane but you would tell me, “she doesn’t get to me, it all goes in one ear and out the other,” you’d say – matter of factly. Then you’d get back to unpacking the van after coming home from whatever antiques show you were doing that weekend.

I thank God you still remember who we all are, one time I called, you sounded confused, I said, “Mom, this is Claudia.” You snapped, “I know!” As though it was an absurd thought that you wouldn’t know the sound of your own daughter’s voice. But one day this could very well be the case. So I’m telling you now, dear Mother, on today - this Mother’s Day: always remember how very much I love you.